sun 26/05/2024

The Frozen Ground | reviews, news & interviews

The Frozen Ground

The Frozen Ground

Nicolas Cage plays an Alaskan lawman out to stop a serial killer

John Cusack: 'a little too stomach-churningly good'

The Frozen Ground, the debut feature of New Zealand director Scott Walker, takes place in Alaska in the 1980s. Based on a true story, it tells of cop Jack Halcombe (Nicolas Cage), who teams up with prostitute Cindy Paulson (Vanessa Hudgens) to try and stop Jack Hansen (John Cusack) from killing again.

Although mostly a standard issue police thriller, The Frozen Ground has some nicely balanced performances. Cage is allowed the weight and concern that his character, the dogged cop, requires. Hudgens tries a bit too hard in her role as the young mouthy prostitute, while Cusack is a little too stomach-churningly good as the killer who has slipped under the police radar for 13 years. (No spoiler there. It’s pretty obvious he’s the killer, although it's not obvious whether the good guy will catch him.)

The film has 30 producers, which could mean its $27m budget wasn't easy to come by

There’s nothing new in The Frozen Ground, but maybe we don't want there to be: there's the cop going all out for a dangerous case just before his retirement, the hardened victim, and the guilty party who is certain he’ll get off. They're all hapless people swirling around in the snow of the killing woods or in the fluorescence of strip clubs, one step from human trafficking. A true story like this seems natural film material - and it’s true, exciting stories do make good films, but plot and action is not enough. There must also be some mastery, some magic in the filmmaking for even the best story to leap from the screen, big or small. As familiar as this is, The Frozen Ground has a tiny heart beating at its centre. It takes time to unfold. We are not sure if the story is going to have a happy ending or not.

Designed as a breakthrough feature, The Frozen Ground has 30 producers - one of whom is 50 Cent, who also plays a pimp in the film - which could mean its reported $27m production budget wasn't easy to come by. Nevertheless, Scottish composer Lorne Balfé (who also worked on Not Another Happy Ending) fills scenes with emotive original music, and cinematographer Patrick Murguia earns marks for making this dark tale look bleak but glossy. Much is made of Hudgens's exotic, erotic dancing - there are thousands of stills online if you want to look - but there is little titillation here. That will be a huge disappointment to fans who love her from her days as a young Disney performer.

Watch trailer for The Frozen Ground

There must also be some mastery, some magic in the filmmaking for even the best story to leap from the screen


Editor Rating: 
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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